Johnny Wayne (1918-1990)

Johnny Wayne

Year Born: 1918Year Died: 1990


Wayne, Johnny (1918-1990)

Born Lou Weingarten, in Toronto, Johnny Wayne met his principal comedy partner Frank Shuster at Harbord Collegiate high school in the 1930s. While there, they began to write and perform comedy reviews, an exercise that continued at the University of Toronto performing in the College Follies.

They enlisted for service in WWII and began to perform again together soon after in the The Army Show. After the war they were active in radio and television and became the favourite performers of American TV icon Ed Sullivan, appearing on his show 67 times, more than any other act.

Athough they were originally billed as Shuster and Wayne when they landed their first radio program – Wife Preservers, on CFRB, in 1941 – the advertising agency felt that Wayne and Shuster rolled off the tongue more easily. Neither thought the order was important. So the reverse billing remained for the rest of their career.

Known for their highly literate satire, both comedians earned degrees in English literature and were working on postgraduate degrees when the war intervened.

The first Wayne and Shuster television show debuted in New York in 1950 on CBS. At the time, they were doing a popular CBC radio series, which had begun in 1946.

But Johnny Wayne’s most important work with Frank Shuster was a long and creative career with the CBC. Their first Canadian television special aired in October of 1957 and they continued to produce a regular series until Wayne died in 1990.  Subsequently, the CBC asked Frank Shuster to edit their library of Wayne and Shuster specials into a half-hour comedy series, which continued to bring laughs to Canadian homes well into the 21st Century.

Written by John Corcelli – August, 2002